Hiking around Cairns
Updated Tue 04 Oct 2022
The stunning and untouchable natural wonders of Cairns and its surrounding regions are like no other. These wonders are best experienced by foot, creating space for the serenity of the trees and the hum of the ancient rainforest . Boasting almost half of Australia’s bird kingdom, there’s an array of creatures to spot both above and below - so taking it slow, immersing into nature and keeping your eyes peeled is a must. Home to an array of incredible hiking and bushwalking tracks, here are our top picks for exploring Cairns with your hiking shoes:
Renowned for its accessibility, the Arrow hikes consist of three different tracks: Red Arrow, Yellow Arrow and Blue Arrow. Located in the Cairns inner suburb of Edgehill, the tracks are great for beginners, dawdlers and dedicated hikers.
Out of the three, Red Arrow is the most popular. It’s a 20 - 30 minute hike through luscious and leafy rainforest, ending with a panoramic view of Cairns airport runway. It’s full of steps and steep climbs in some places, so the hike is best suited to those who have an average level of fitness. Local flock here all day, so it’s best for a quick hit of exercise rather than an immersive bushwalking experience.
Taking around an hour to complete, Yellow Arrow is the newest paved path. Offering hikers a unique downhill descent through creeks and tiny crevices, be sure to keep at least an hour free to complete Yellow Arrow.
As the longest hike of the lot, Blue Arrow winds for 5.5 kilometres and is no tiny feat. Following the rough, but easy-to-follow trail, it’s a hike best attempted in the morning, as it takes around 3 hours to complete.
As one of Cairns’ best known natural delights, Crystal Cascades is a peaceful waterfall nestled amongst lush forests and rocky crevices. Located around 20 kilometres from Cairns via road, the hike is a steady 1.2 kilometre long incline that leads you through a series of small waterfalls, flowing into larger pools. With a bunch of pools to dip your toes into along the way up, this hike is your best bet if you want to pair sweating it out with cooling off.
Barron Gorge National Park
Located around 18 kilometres from Cairns, the Barron Gorge National Park hike offers spectacular views and opportunities for wildlife spotting. The hike itself is thrilling and requires endurance, and ends with a gorgeous view of Barron Falls itself. The length of time the hike takes varies greatly depending on fitness and speed: experienced and ultra fit hikers could complete the hike in 30 minutes, whereas those who take a more leisurely pace are looking at up to six hours.
If you’re a fan of cooling down to the view of open skies and endless green, Glacier Rock is for you. Head to Stoney Creek car park and walk into Stoney Creek, following the clearly marked signs towards Glacier Rock. The trail takes around three to four hours, and is renowned for being one of the most challenging hikes in the area. The steep upward climb is best suited for average to advanced hikers, but rest assured - taking a dip at Stoney Creek Falls at the end of the trail is sure to soothe those aching calf muscles.
Mount Bartle Frere
As one of the most popular trails in the region, the track up to the peak of Mount Bartle Frere is challenging, rewarding and incredible. Located about 75 kilometres from Cairns, the mountain is the highest peak in Queensland. Trekking to the top should take between six to eight hours, so an average fitness level is highly recommended. Although the trek is strenuous, the jaw-dropping view from the peak is well worth it.
Boasting the title for the tallest freestanding natural pyramid in the world, Walsh’s Pyramid is a must-do for any adventure-seeker. The 922 metre hike up to the peak is challenging but completely doable for those with an average level of fitness. The track is nestled between bushy scrublands, eucalyptus forest and the habitats of some of North Queensland’s most unique creatures. It’s important to note that hikers should always carry dry foods and drinking water, as there is nowhere to stock up along the way.
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